Passive house: architecture, inspiration & pictures

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What is a passive house? 

We live in a world constantly changing due to climate challenges and another aspect that have a negative impact on the environment. Clearly making use of more ecological solutions are far better in the long-run than resorting to harsh means. Owning a passive house goes a long way in ensuring a smaller ecological impact on the environment.

A passive house uses natural methods to generate heat and energy in an eco-friendly manner. Research to implement low energy homes began in the 70’s and more of it was studied and  documented during 80’s by Dr William Shurcliff  in America. The interest was born in the USA and the funding of the US Department of Energy, combined with the Canadian government’s input helped set the standards for building successful passive construction.

Later this became a project of a wider scale taking the idea to Europe. Concept homes of this manner was built in the 1990’s, most of its principles came from the research in prior years. A Swedish and German scientist took to the launch of a trial “passivhaus” project that involved row houses. Due to the success of the project, it was only a matter of time that a demand for these eco homes grew and their development methods improved.

While many of the older passive houses made use of solar panels to source natural heat energy from the sun, modern-day houses make use of even better technologies to regulate energy use in the home.

Today the likes of green homes can be seen throughout the world and is the future of low energy house solutions.

How these houses developed over the years

Throughout time, this form of solar house method has evolved a long way and the following are some of the basic measures applied to most self-sustaining houses: 

- Remaining airtight to reduce outside air from infiltrating 

- High-performance doors and windows are used to conduct heat in winter 

- Eco homes balance the use of heat and moisture to conduct the ideal temperature control methods for living in the home.

Eco homes are common in the States and across the world becoming  more of a future option to property of the modern age. Their designs may vary one from the other because the actual design does not solely contribute to their ability to be self-sustaining.

What to consider when building a passive house

Since green building methods have grown to become the future of self-sustaining construction, owning a home of this caliber is worth every dollar spent.

Heating—Heating regulation requires space heating not to exceed 15kWh per year, per square meter of the property. 

Cooling—Cooling regulations is similar to heating per square meter over the span of a year, however there is an extra allowance for dehumidifying your home based on the weather. 

Locked in air - Each house must maintain air change regulation of 0.6 at 50 Pascals per hour 

Thermal heating - Only 10% of thermal heating is allowed during temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius per year. 

Lightingefficient light systems are put in place to reduce the use of electricity as well as methods to reduce internal heating loads over a long period of time.

Are there legal issues when building eco-friendly houses?

The standards of building an eco-friendly home from scratch has to pass the guides of the correct channels involved.

Depending on state regulations regarding a green building, you may be able to increase the external wall insulation by 300mm and the brickwork can be reduced by 115mm. You can also choose to increase the roof insulation from 100mm to 225mm.

Is it better to build or simply purchase eco homes? 

The cost to build a passive house is estimated to be around 5 to 10% more than the cost of building a regular home. Using larger scale materials such as doors and windows are said to drive costs down in the long-run, these estimates can differ depending on the types of materials, plot size, location and professionals used on the project.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of having an eco home?

Pros: 

- Reduce energy costs by up to 90% 

- Vacuum-tight buildings mean no exposure to dust, pollen and other allergens 

- Regulated heating allows for consistent comfort throughout seasons 

- Low noise levels 

- Increases property value

Cons: 

- The building design needs to be carefully considered for it to work most efficiently 

- Overall cost to build the property can be expensive 

- If not carefully executed, thermal problems could occur

Maintenance costs of a passive house

Every home’s maintenance requirements can cost the owner when calculating all everything involved over a period of time. The overall cost to maintain a passive house is cost effective and most of the technologies used are made to last a lifetime.  

Whether you’re looking to purchase your eco home or build one from scratch your options are favorable as a long-term investment.

If you’re looking to invest in this eco-friendly form of housing, then have a word with one of our professionals listed on Homify for more information and assistance with your passive solar house plans.